Fox News contributor and former chairman of Concerned Veterans for America, Peter Hegseth visited Israel this week, looking to learn firsthand about the Arab-Israeli conflict and life in the Jewish state.
“Seeing is believing and it is therefore critical that as many people of all backgrounds are encouraged to come to Israel,” Hegseth said.
A decorated former US Army officer who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq and a Harvard grad, Hegseth worked with the conservative Manhattan Institute for Police Research and several veterans organizations.
During his visit in Israel, Hegseth blasted last year’s Iranian nuclear deal, calling it a “tragic mistake” that empowered Iran while weakening the West.
“The Iran deal was a horrible and tragic mistake, with historical consequences for the United States and Israel. Barack Obama was obsessed with a deal - a legacy deal - and doesn't believe the Iranian regime when they say 'death to America' and 'death to Israel', and he wanted a deal no matter what because he wanted something on his resume that made it look like he contributed to some form of world peace.”
“In reality what he's done is empower the world's most vicious sponsor of state-terrorism, a historic enemy of Israel and the United States who is now on a path to a nuclear weapon.”
Hegseth praised Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, calling him one of the most effective and consistent critics of the Iran deal.
“The primary person who spoke truth in that moment was Bibi Netanyahu... who stood up and said 'If this happens, you are now threatening the very existence of Israel because Iran has said what they would do with a nuclear weapon and that capability. And wielding that would change the whole power-dynamic in the Middle East. It would disempower Israel and disempower the United States and empower one of the most fanatical Islamist regimes in the region in Iran.”
Despite the steps towards implementation of the deal, Hegseth expressed optimism it could be reversed, noting the deal was never ratified by the Senate and therefore is not binding upon future administrations.
“The Iranian deal was never approved or ratified in our Senate, it’s not a deal that most American's agree with, and it’s certainly not something that has to stand. So we look to someone like Netanyahu, who has been a voice of clarity, and I think there are a lot of us in the United States who think it should be fundamentally undone and we shouldn't be doing side-deals with a terrorist regime like the one in Teheran.”
Hegseth also touched upon Jewish construction in Jerusalem, an issued that has become a frequent point of contention between Israel and the Obama administration. In 2010 Biden ripped a planned housing development in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood during a visit to Israel, marking one of the low points in the relationship between the Obama White House and Israel.
“First of all, I would defer Israel's destiny to Israel,” said Hegseth. “I don't think it’s in our interest to condemn the individual moves of a sovereign country like Israel on those issues. I think it all comes back to an investment in an international deal or a two-state solution that is proving itself to be less and less viable.”
“I think what Israel chooses to do within Jerusalem, especially with allowing people to buy land or live where they like to should be its own business and they should have the ability to do that.”